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Kelly Vitousek Working With Anorexia Clinical Masterclass

Monday 29th June - Tuesday 30th June 2015 at BPS Offices, Tabernacle Street, London

Two day masterclass covering the topics of;

  • Motivation
  • In vivo work
  • Starvation
  • Overvalued pursuits


The workshop will cover four main themes of motivation, starvation syndrome, overvalued pursuits and in-vivo working.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective tested treatment for the eating disorders. Many clinicians, however, consider the approach insufficient for anorexia nervosa (AN) and perhaps ill-suited to the challenges it presents. Therapists with experience in applying CBT to other populations find that robust treatment principles don’t seem to hold for AN. For example, exposure frequently fails to diminish patients’ anxiety; distorted beliefs seem impervious to cognitive restructuring. This workshop will focus on addressing the difficulties that complicate the use of CBT (and most other treatment modalities) for individuals with AN and related eating disorders that involve low weight. Three distinctive features will be emphasized: the positive valuation of symptoms, the hard-wired effects of hunger and semi-starvation, and the high levels of effort required to sustain anorexic behavior. Each of these key elements has direct implications for the design and delivery of more effective interventions for AN and related eating disorders. Specific recommendations for adapting CBT to the distinctive characteristics of AN will be provided, with numerous clinical examples from adolescent and adult patients.

Although therapist-assisted exposure is a common component of cognitive and behavioral therapies for anxiety disorders, this strategy has been surprisingly neglected in the ED field (with the exceptions of on-site supervised eating, ERP to binge-purge cues, and mirror exposure). Our outpatient clinic makes frequent use of a broader range of in vivo experiences, which can be devised flexibly and creatively to serve a number of assessment and treatment purposes. Many of these exercises involve scenarios that go beyond conventional targets such as consuming feared foods or ordering from a restaurant menu. For example, scenarios can be developed collaboratively to help an individual practice eating non-restrictively in the company of someone who appears to be dieting or who comments critically on the patient's weight or the “unhealthy” food choices he or she has made. Other scenarios include situations such as exercising, going to the beach, and discussing ED-related issues with friends, co-workers, and physicians.

Topics covered will include:

- Key phenomena that complicate the treatment of anorexia nervosa and related eating disorders
- How to adapt the style, focus, and techniques of CBT to better fit these distinctive features
- Use of patients’ key issues and personal values to enhance motivation, active participation, and behavior change
- Exposure principles and recommended adaptations of standard exposure protocols to better fit the unique features of this population
- Opportunities for incorporating more behavioral experiments and in vivo exercises in CBT for AN and related eating disorders
- Sample in vivo exercises for adolescent and adult patients
- Management of common problems, including patient reluctance and retreat, confidentiality in public places, boundary issues, and therapists’ own sensitivities about eating and weight situations

Training Modalities

The workshop will include didactic presentation, review of audiotaped and videotaped patient examples, several group exercises, and targeted role-play experiences. Discussion will be encouraged throughout the session. The workshop will include numerous specific examples illustrating the use of in vivo exercises with adolescent and adult patients. Common problems will be discussed, with particular emphasis on drawing on individuals’ personal values to enhance motivation.

Target audience

The Masterclass will be targeted at qualified Clinical and Counseling Psychologists. Whilst it will be accessible to practitioners new to Kelly’s work, it will be geared towards being useful for practitioners with intermediate to high levels of expertise and experience. It will be focused on working with anorexia and low-weight eating disorder presentations but some of the principles will generalize to work with other eating disorders.

Registration for this event has now closed

If you have any queries please contact us via the event hotline on 01332 224505.


Monday 29th June 2015

09:30Registration and refreshments
10:00Event start
13:00Lunch (provided)
14:00Event continues
16:30Event close

Tuesday 30th June 2015

09:30Registration and refreshments
10:00Event start
13:00Lunch (provided)
14:00Event continues
16:30Event close

Speakers and Facilitators


Dr Kelly M. Vitousek, Ph.D.

Kelly M. Vitousek, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii
Kelly Vitousek is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Hawaii. She is Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Honolulu, and Director of the Eating Disorder Program. Her interests include motivational issues in the treatment of eating disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy for anorexia nervosa, and patterns of extreme overvalued behavior in non-clinical populations, including high-altitude mountain climbers and practitioners of calorie restriction for longevity.


BPS Offices, Tabernacle Street, London

The British Psychological Society, 30 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4UE

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